Our Best Budget-Friendly Beef Recipes
When it's time to set a dinner game plan, most days, we all want the same thing: We want to make a meal that’s fast, easy, and most importantly, affordable. Enter, beef. And we're not just talking the ground stuff; a variety of beef cuts can easily fit into your family’s budget, with no sacrifice to the flavor or quality of your meal. These smart recipes utilize inexpensive and underrated beef selections, amping them up with just the right cooking techniques, sauces, spices, vegetables, and cheeses for the job, in order to create meals that will win your family over any night of the week.
Pan Seared Chuck-Eye Steaks
Known among chefs as “the poor man’s ribeye,” chuck-eye steak is a common and incredibly inexpensive (our recipe developer purchased two organic chuck eye steaks for less than $8) cut of beef readily available at most supermarkets. While chuck-eye is often purchased as a roast—destined to cook for hours in a slow cooker in order to become tender enough to enjoy—what many home cooks don’t know is that in steak form, chuck-eye holds the potential to be one of the most succulent cuts you’ll ever cook. In other words, you can serve what tastes like a luxurious steak dinner at a fraction of the cost if you opt for chuck-eye. There are a few details of this recipe that are key to your steak success; for one, salting the beef and letting it rest uncovered in the fridge draws moisture from the surface of the meat, which is what will allow you to achieve an incredible crispy sear. Your next essential step is basting. This technique is one often overlooked by home cooks; however, continually spooning that rich mixture of the steak’s drippings, melted butter, and aromatics over the beef is crucial to yielding a tender, juicy steak. Finally, be sure to allow your steaks a full 5 minutes to rest (yes, this will test the boundaries of your self control) before thinly slicing against the grain.
Moroccan Beef Daube
This flavor-packed twist on beef daube is the perfect use for inexpensive stew beef. With a bright, herbaceous yogurt topping to add a burst of freshness, this hearty dish hits all the right flavor notes.
Garlicky Beef-and-Bean Stir-Fry
Cut costs at the supermarket by rethinking how you buy meats. Here, we use a less expensive cut of beef and stretch it by adding colorful fresh veggies to the entrée. Thinly slice the meat and stir-fry it quickly to keep it tender.
Tex-Mex meets tater tots in this easy, inexpensive, and all-around comforting one-dish dinner. Our spicy twist on the classic tater tot casserole consists of a succulent ground beef filling—featuring creamy black beans, crisp-sweet corn, cheese, and mild green chiles for a kick—topped with crispy tater tots, and finished with a drizzle of an addictively spicy and tangy sour cream sauce. Top this fiesta of a casserole with fresh garnishes, such as avocado, tomato, jalapeño, and cilantro, and it’s as perfect to serve at your next football feast as it is for a casual weeknight meal. We use 85/15 lean ground beef for this recipe and recommend that you do not go with anything leaner, as the higher fat percentage both contributes to the filling’s rich flavor and keeps it from drying out while baking.
Pan-Fried Beef and Scallion Dumplings
These easy beef dumplings are an excellent use for extra-lean ground beef, and are great served as an appetizer or as a simple entree alongside a couple of vegetable sides, like Sesame-Soy Green Beans or Mixed Mushrooms with Fish Sauce. It’s important to use a leaner ratio of ground beef for this recipe in order to avoid excessive grease releasing during the steaming process .(If your beef is too fatty, you’ll end up with soup dumplings filled with beef grease.) The dumplings can be made a few hours in advance, simply cover with a damp paper towel and hold in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
Ground Beef and Pasta Casserole
This casserole is perfect for your busy week when getting in and out of the kitchen needs to be a snap. With very simple prep work, it will become a weeknight staple in your household.
Pan-Seared Hanger Steak with Brussels Sprouts, Potatoes, and Lemon-Herb Butter
Ladies and gentleman, meet your new favorite single-skillet supper. When done right, a pan-seared hanger steak is one of the most delicious cuts of beef you’ll ever eat; it’s incredibly flavorful, tender, juicy, and best of all, relatively inexpensive. If it’s a new cut to you, trust us, it’s definitely one worth exploring. Perfectly pan searing a steak is one of those essential kitchen skills that every home cook should master (don’t worry, it’s easy) in order to whip up an impressive, company-worth meal at the last minute or simply to treat yourself and/or your family to a special meal—any night of the week. And a simple-to-make compound butter dresses hanger steak up to appear far more sophisticated than its price tag might suggest. In fact, keeping a compound butter like this versatile Lemon-Herb variation on hand is an easy and awesome way to dress up any number otherwise average meals throughout the week. This recipe will leave you with plenty leftover, simply wrap it up and pop it in the freezer for later use. One final note on the compound better: Don’t fear the anchovy. Anchovy paste (if you’d prefer, you can also use a couple of oil-packed anchovy fillets, mashed well with a fork, in place of the paste) will not infuse the butter with a fishy flavor; rather, it will provide an added element of richly subtle savoriness. Of course, you can always leave the anchovy out… but we’d highly encourage giving it a try. Using the tasty drippings left in your pan to sauté a quick veggie side dish is another delicious pro move that makes this one-pan meal perfect for even a hectic weeknight. A mix of Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and onions makes for a comforting side dish that balances out the richness of the meat and butter. Any leftover steak can (and should) be used to make an epic next-day steak sandwich or salad. Make this dish once, and we can almost guarantee that butter-basted seared steak + a quick, same-skillet veggie sauté will become a dinner game plan you’ll come back to again and again. If you want to try the same technique with a different cut of steak, we’d suggest our Pan Seared Strip Steak with Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Vanilla-Cabernet Butter. And you can find more helpful technique tips for achieving a perfect sear on your steaks right here.
Slow Cooker Rosemary Beef Chuck Roast
Set your slow cooker on low and go on about your day knowing that dinner is gonna be delicious. In this simple set-it-and-forget-it dish, beef chuck roast cooks in a flavor-packed rosemary marinade, full of fresh rosemary leaves and onions for a succulent, highly comforting entree. The habanero pepper delivers a detectable heat, but the spice factor is not overwhelming. However, if you’re sensitive to heat, use a quarter of the pepper instead of half (or omit it altogether). The remaining liquid in the slow cooker can be cooked down on the stovetop into a rich, flavorful gravy to top the beef, along with your favorite starchy side—rice, mashed potatoes, or roasted sweet potatoes would all make great options.
Slow-Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
Buffalo Beef Dip
Why make the same old Buffalo chicken dip when you could incorporate beef? Beef is naturally richer and more savory, so its no surprise how delcicious it is when paired with the iconic heat of Buffalo sauce. Serve this perfect twist on a crowd-pleasing favorite while watching the big game. Our bet is that you never go back to the bird. Be sure to look for packaged, pulled beef without sauce (since you will be adding your own). Alternatively, you can always use leftover smoked, shredded beef from your favorite BBQ restaurant.
Milanesa de Res with Summer Relish
“Milanesa” refers to a cut of meat that’s pounded very thin, breaded, and fried—in other words, it’s grade-A comfort food. Here, we went with one of the more popular proteins for this traditional dish to make crispy beef milanesa, and topped it off with a simple summer salsa for a pop of color and vibrancy. Pro-tip: Don’t hold back when pounding the beef prior to cooking, as this breaks down muscle fibers and tenderizes your steak.
Quick and Easy Nachos
This platter of goodness represents the lowest-effort end of the nacho spectrum. That said, “low-effort”—by no stretch of the imagination—means a low YUM-factor here. Although this game day-perfect platter of beefy, cheesy nachos comes together quickly and relies largely on store-bought shortcuts, it delivers the classic meld of flavors and textures that you want from everyone’s favorite appetizer. For this recipe, we combine the meat and cheese elements to create a Ro*Tel Dip-inspired, beefy cheese sauce to pour over the nachos. Not only does this guarantee an even distribution of the hearty toppings, but it keeps you from having to crank up the oven. However, if you prefer melted, shredded cheese over a sauce, simply cook your ground beef in a skillet on the stovetop, drain, and distribute over the nachos on a sheet pan. Then, top the platter with shredded cheese and pop it under the broiler until melty and glorious (omitting the can of Ro*Tel).
Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew
A nutty dark beer adds richness and depth to the stew. Be careful not to choose a beer that's super-hoppy; it will taste too bitter. To get 2 pounds of trimmed meat, you'll probably need to purchase a 2 1/2-pound roast.
Beef and Guinness Stew
This hearty beef stew is made with lean boneless chuck that's cooked with carrots, parsnips and turnips and flavored with dark beer. Simmering it in a Dutch oven for about 2 hours makes the meat and vegetables fork tender and delicious.
Quick Beef Stroganoff
Make a classic family favorite in a fraction of the time. Best of all, this comforting dish comes in at less than 400 calories per serving.
Slow-Cooker Brisket with Smoked Paprika
Save time and oven space and use a slow-cooker for brisket that's tender when pierced, with a rich, velvety sauce. Start in the morning and you'll have brisket by dinnertime.
Slow-Cooker Macaroni and Beef
Spicy Shredded Beef
A little like a Mexican sloppy Joe, this juicy shredded beef is best sandwiched in crusty French rolls and topped with cabbage, red onion, sliced tomato, cilantro, and sour cream.
Prep and Cook Time: about 30 minutes, plus 8 to 10 hours in the slow-cooker. Notes: Chipotle sauce, made by San Marcos, Knorr, and other brands, can be found at Whole Foods and Mexican markets or on MexGrocer.com. Save extra sauce from recipe to top Mexican rice or cooked pinto beans.
Slow-braised Beef Stew with Mushrooms
Subtle Asian flavors like ginger, Chinese five spice, and soy sauce join short ribs and mushrooms in the slow cooker for an easy, fragrant beef stew. Serve this hearty, comforting beef dish over a bed of jasmine rice or mashed potatoes--you'll definitely want something to soak up the rich sauce. If you do not have port or cream sherry on hand, you can simply increase the amount of red wine by 1/2 cup as a substitute.
Hot Pastrami Sandwiches
When you're at L.A.'s Dodger Stadium, the best thing to order between innings is the piled-high Fairfax sandwich made by Canter's Deli. This is our version.
Mushroom, Beef, and Bacon Stew
You can use just about any mushroom you like for this stew (or a mix of varieties), as long as you add the more delicate ones during the last hour of cooking.
Flemish Beef and Beer Stew
Nothing says cozy like a hearty beer and beef stew. The sweet and sour Belgian ale adds major flare with flavors of plum, black cherry, and brown sugar which complements this seasonal stew for an oaky sapor.
Beef Marsala Stew
This is an ideal recipe for the slow cooker, where gentle, prolonged cooking turns tough beef into tender bites. Serve the stew over a mound of Fluffy Mashed Potatoes.
Cowboy-Style Beef and Vegetable Ragout
Think of this savory meat sauce as a cross between beef stew and sloppy joe filling. Add pearl onions to soups and stir-fries, or saute in a skillet with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. The perfect pairing for this ragout is our Cauliflower Polenta. While the stock mixture for the polenta comes to a boil, begin cooking the beef mixture. As your finish the ragout, the polenta will be cooking away. The addition of cauliflower to traditional polenta lightens the recipe. To add more vegetables to this ragout, add carrots and parsnips during the fall.
Sheet Pan Beef and Black Bean Nachos
Load up the nachos on a baking sheet, then bring straight to the table for easy serving and a great presentation. While we love melted shredded cheese, we found that it makes the nachos a bit unwieldy. Instead, a creamy cheese sauce coats each chip and makes it easier to separate from the pack. Topping potential is endless, but we like sliced avocado and jalapeño.
Sirloin and Parmesan Meat Loaf
For even shaping, use a loaf pan as a mold to shape the meat loaf; then invert onto the baking sheet.
Slow Cooker Beef-and-Sweet Potato Chili
Leaving the peels on the sweet potatoes has three benefits: Prep is faster, you add more fiber, and the potatoes hold their shape better after the 7-hour simmer. Besides, the peels get so tender that you barely notice they're there. If you'd like to change things up, try parsnips in place of the sweet potatoes; they have a similar sweetness and earthier flavor. For less sweetness, you can try small red potatoes or baby Yukon Golds. You don't need to fully cook the ground beef before it goes into the slow cooker; just cook it enough to "set" the shape of the crumbles.
Spiced Beef Tostadas with Cilantro-Lime Rice
These tostadas are inspired by classic taco night toppers and sides. Our version amps up the spice while keeping sodium numbers in check.
Meatball and Ziti Bake
Whole-wheat pasta holds up well in this cheesy, saucy pasta bake.
Speedy Shepherd's Pie
Making the most of supermarket convenience items gets this family favorite on the table in a flash. Precut matchstick carrots are easier to chop into small pieces quickly, and using prepared mashed potatoes for the topping is a good trick for when you don't have leftover mashed potatoes on hand.
Beef, Cheese, and Noodle Bake
Thanks to purchased pre-made ingredients, new cooks can get that “made from scratch” taste.
When we say easy, we mean easy. You don't even have to cook the noodles for this speedy yet impressive lasagna that always gets rave reviews. Lasagna is a family favorite, but this version is extra-special because it only requires 5 quick ingredients: ground beef, pasta sauce, lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, and shredded mozzarella (we don’t count the water!). It’s rated 5 stars for a reason. Pro tip: Make a double batch: Enjoy one now and freeze one for a quick meal on a busy weeknight.
Mongolian Beef and Vegetables
This takeout favorite is typically laden with beef and coated with a sticky-sweet sauce. Our makeover makes crisp-tender snow peas, broccoli, and carrots the star, with seared flank steak as the supporting player. We also balanced the blend of brown sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil in the sauce. Add a sliced red chile or a good pinch of crushed red pepper for a spicy sauce. We recommend serving with Sesame Soba Noodles.
Thai Beef Salad
Make this semi-involved recipe much faster by using the food processor's shredder attachment to shred the cabbage. Omit the fish sauce if you don't care for its flavor.
Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes
Cremini offer deeper, richer flavor, but you can also use regular button mushrooms.
Vietnamese Beef-Noodle Soup with Asian Greens
Introduce your taste buds to Vietnamese cuisine with this quick and easy soup. The rich broth, aromatic herbs, and tender steak will leave you wanting more.
Instant Pot Beef Stew
This recipe was adapted from Cooking Light's wildly popular Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew to create a simple, speedy version of a comfort food favorite. As the original recipe notes, a nutty dark beer adds richness and depth to the stew, but be careful not to choose a beer that's super-hoppy; it will taste too bitter.
Quick Taco Salad
This easy mexican taco salad will become your go-to weekday recipe to please the whole family. Rated 5 stars by our users, this flavorful salad is fast, easy, and so delicious. Ready in just minutes flat, this salad makes the perfect accompaniment to a busy weeknight or a tight schedule. With an authentic and flavorful edge, this salad soars above the rest in its simplicity, short ingredient list, and speed. This would also make for a perfect Cinco de Mayo dinner or lunch.
Serve up this 20-minute Beef-Broccoli Stir-Fry that is equally healthy and hearty.
Pressure-Cooker Beef-and-Bean Chili
Slow Cooker Thai Beef Curry
Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner
Super Fast Upside-Down Shepherd's Pie
Flank Steak With Toasted-Corn Salsa
Prep: 15 minutes; Cook: 18 minutes. To slice corn kernels off the cob easily, use a serrated knife. Don't bother using frozen or canned corn--it actually takes longer to toast.
Andrea's wine pick: A peppery Aussie shiraz is a good match for the spicy rub, and its oak aging adds a coconut flavor that sets off the sweetness of the corn salsa. Look for Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, $22.
Carne Asada Tacos with Avocado Pico de Gallo
Just saying Carne Asada Taco with Avocado Pico de Gallo makes our mouths water. Squeeze fresh lime juice over tacos and enjoy. If you don't have a gas stove to cook the tortillas, char them slightly in a grill pan over high heat.